National Arthritis Conference Report 2004

William C. Shiel, Jr., MD, FACP, FACR, Editor of the Arthritis Overview, Gives Perspectives Of Interest On Systemic Lupus Erythematosus From 2004 Annual Scientific Meeting Of The American College Of Rheumatology.

Introduction

Lupus is a chronic inflammatory condition that is caused by autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases are illnesses that occur when the body's tissues are attacked by its own immune system. The immune system is a complex organization within the body that is designed normally to fight infections and other foreign invaders. Patients with lupus have unusual antibodies in their blood that target their own body tissues. Lupus can cause disease of the skin, heart, lungs, kidneys, joints, and nervous system. Generally, when only the skin is involved, the condition is called discoid lupus. When internal organs are involved, the condition is called systemic lupus erythematosus.

Below are perspectives on key reports presented at the recent national meeting of the American College of Rheumatology:

Blood Vessel Risks Highlighted

There were numerous reports that found a direct association between systemic lupus erythematosus and blood vessel disease, including atherosclerosis as well as carotid and coronary artery disease, including calcification of the coronary arteries. Also, the presence of antiphospholipid antibodies (such as cardiolipin antibody and lupus anticoagulant) were associated with an increased risk for atherosclerosis of blood vessels.